I felt inept. I lacked confidence. I was worried I would hurt myself. That describes how I felt last week when I decided I would give mountain biking a try. It has been over five years since I have done any “real” mountain biking. I have been wanting to get back out there for a while, but I have been so focused on my road cycling I didn’t have time.
As I went on the so called “beginner” trail with my heart pumping and not knowing what to expect I was greeted with more protruding and jagged rocks than I would expect on a “beginner” trail. All I thought as I was praying that I could get over those rocks is that it would really hurt to have one of those jabbed into my side. I could feel my lungs being punctured. Not a good thought at all.
As I tentatively navigated over the rocks, I saw an uphill climb approaching with what I would call some large impediments that I would have to jump over. In my mind, I quickly processed if I should take a chance and try to ride over them or to get off my bike and walk over the obstacles. My risk-adverse side said to hop off the bike and play it safe, which I did.
In between the tentativeness and slow pace I kept, I did take some time to look at all of the natural beauty around me. It was amazing. No cars to deal with and I only came across a few people. I can see why people love to mountain bike.
I did make it to the end of my ride without any disasters. I was humbled and was reminded of what it felt like to be a beginner. I am an expert in the gym both as a fitness professional and a long time body builder. I am an advanced road cyclist and an above average golfer.
This experience on my mountain bike as a beginner really made me stop and think about my clients and potential clients I will be working with. It made me think about how they feel when they first come to train with me. How they must feel as a beginner. The courage it takes to go into the unknown and being OK with being a beginner.
I lead a Faith and Fitness class at a church and we regularly have about fifteen people come to the class. It takes a great deal of bravery to attend a class for the first time not knowing what to expect, especially if you are new to fitness.
I have always had a great deal of compassion for people who are new to exercise and I will have even more after this reminder of what it feels like to be a beginner.
If you are not doing something that you have always wanted to do because you are afraid of being a beginner, I want to encourage you to do it anyways. Embrace being a beginner. It’s about the journey and what you learn about yourself along the way.
I will be back on my mountain bike this week. I know I will be better this time than I was last time. I will enjoy being a beginner and see what I can learn about myself along the way. I will get out of my comfort zone and realize I don’t have to be an expert at everything. If I stay at this long enough, I can become an expert at this too and if I don’t that is just fine by me. I will be a better person for trying.
Troy Ismir, MS
Spiritual Warrior Coach